Cannes Lions: Winning ads were legitimate but it’s inappropriate to say where they ran



The boss of the Cannes Lions has issued his first comment on two award winning print campaigns which had questions raised about whether they had run.

According to Terry Savage, chairman of the Cannes Lions, the campaigns were “legitimate”. However, he declined to answer further questions about where they had run or if he was satisfied they had been client-commissioned, saying it was “not appropriate” to do so.

The email from Savage is the first official comment from the Cannes Lions organisers since Mumbrella began asking questions more than a fortnight ago.

Mumbrella was unable to find evidence of a Saatchi & Saatchi Sydney campaign for Panasonic in-car air conditioning and a DDB Sydney text-only ad for McDonald’s Australia having run locally. The campaigns won a silver and a bronze in the Press Lions category last month.

In follow-up questions, both agencies declined to say where the ads had run.

Panasonic’s media agency UM told Mumbrella it had not booked any ad space for the campaign. And Panasonic’s marketing boss was quoted as saying that the ad was not published in Australia and the brand had not booked the campaign.

A constant issue in international awards are “scam” ads, created in order to win advertising awards rather than to solve a business problem. Scam ads either do not run in media at all or are placed cheaply in a minor publication to reach minimum entry requirements.

According to Cannes policy on scam, work has to have been approved and paid for by the client and run in media space paid for by the client.

The response from Savage came after Mumbrella’s Tim Burrowes posted an open letter, raising the questions.

Savage emailed on Friday that after Mumbrella had originally raised questions:

“We did however at that time instigate the required follow up and I can confirm we are satisfied that the entries do meet the required entry standards and in our view are legitimate”.

In response, Mumbrella asked where the ads ran. Savage responded:

“Not appropriate for me to divulge entry details, however we do have Media schedules and have had contact or conversations with all parties which have satisfied us that the entries were legitimate.”

Mumbrella asked: “That’s even in the light of the Australian client saying they had no knowledge of it? Did it run overseas? And can you give us a quote on the reason it’s inappropriate?”

Savage responded:

The statement I have given is pretty clear and I have nothing further to add.”

Panasonic, Saatchi & Saatchi, McDonald’s and DDB are continuing to decline to disclose where their respective ads – Blissful Dog, Confused Dog and Windblown Dog; and, Darth Vader and Superman – ran.

One of the Saatchi & Saatchi award-winning ads

One of the Saatchi & Saatchi award-winning ads

Mumbrella has also sought further comment from both McDonald’s and Panasonic, with McDonald’s sticking with its no comment policy relating to media schedules. At the time of posting Mumbrella had not heard back from Panasonic.

One of the DDB award-winning McDonald's ads

One of the DDB award-winning McDonald’s ads

Savage has agreed to speak further to Mumbrella when he reaches the Cannes Lions office in London this week.

Miranda Ward and Tim Burrowes



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing